Should a neck dissection be performed on patients with cN0 adenoid cystic carcinoma? A REFCOR propensity score matching study

Eur J Cancer. 2020 May:130:250-258. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2019.12.026. Epub 2020 Jan 30.


Background: Patterns of nodal involvement in adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) of the head and neck have not been sufficiently assessed to guide a decision of prophylactic neck dissection (ND). The objective of this study is to analyse the influence of ND on event-free survival (EFS) for patients with cN0 ACC.

Patients and methods: A multicentre prospective study was conducted between 2009 and 2018. Patients presenting cN0 non-metastatic ACC on any site, and who received surgery on the tumour, were included. EFS was the main judgement criterion. A comparative survival analysis between the groups that received a ND versus those that did not was performed, using a propensity score. Analyses were carried out using the R software.

Results: Between 2009 and 2018, 322 patients with cN0 ACC were included, out of which 58% were female. The average age was 53 years. Tumours were in minor salivary glands in 58% of cases, and 52% had T3/T4 stages. ND was performed on 46% of patients. Out of them, seven had histological lymph node invasion, out of which six had tumour infiltration in the mucosa of oral cavity. After propensity score, the median EFS for N0 patients with ND was 72 months (95% Confidence Interval (CI) [48-81]), compared to 73 months (95% CI [52-85]) for patients without ND (HR = 1.33; 95% CI [0.82-2.16]; p = 0.2).

Conclusion: ND of cN0 patients does not provide any benefit on EFS, which suggests that its application on such patients is not necessary.

Keywords: Adenoid cystic carcinoma; Neck dissection; REFCOR; Salivary gland cancer; Surgery.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / surgery*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / surgery
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnosis
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Dissection* / methods
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Propensity Score
  • Prophylactic Surgical Procedures
  • Prospective Studies
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult